Basic Tool Maintenance
Being in the construction industry, our tools and equipment are the livelihood of our business. Being relied on day in, day out so that we can get the jobs get done means that they are constantly being subjected to dirt, grime, and harsh elements and in turn suffer a lot of wear and tear. Good tools are an expensive investment, which means that it is important to maintain them regularly. A well cared for tool can reward you with many years of service.
Regular maintenance will increase the service life and performance of your equipment. Take good care of your tools and they will last a lifetime! Store them well, keep them clean and well-maintained, and you won't regret it.
CLEAN YOUR TOOLS
After a long day's work, cleaning might be the last thing on your mind but remember, your tools have been hard at work and will be covered with dirt and grime. Take a few seconds before packing up to give them a quick wipe down.
Cleaning your tools doesn't have to be difficult at all if you're prepared:
- Hand/Garden tools: Most hand tools can be cleaned simply by wiping them down with a rag. If you find that they are in need of more than just a wipe down, give them a good wash with soap and water. You will want to spray the metal with a light coat of WD-40 and wipe off the excess with a rag. Leaving a film on it will keep the rust away. On the handles, linseed oil on a damp rag will do the trick
- Power tools: As always, safety first so make sure the tool is unplugged before any cleaning. If you have an air compressor, it will prove useful in helping you get the dust off it, otherwise, wipe it down and lubricate any moving parts. Be sure to check the manufacturers manual for any cleaning instructions
Whilst toolboxes don't need to be cleaned on a daily basis, make sure you clean them out every once in awhile. Set aside some time once a month, empty out our tools and wipe them out.
PROTECT ELECTRICAL CORDS
Electrical cords are often in the way of construction vehicles and foot traffic and placed where machine like forklifts could accidentally cut through them. To avoid your wires from getting damaged, protect them by covering the cords with a casing on purpose-built ramps.
Lubricating tools helps them to perform better and reduces wear and tear of its components. This is even more important when it comes to gas and pressurised air tools which need to be lubricated on a daily basis before use.
By coating the internal components with a special oil, you can prevent corrosion which happens when moisture or condensation gets into the tools.
INSPECT (AND REPAIR) TOOLS REGULARLY
As part of your OHS procedure, tool inspections should be done at the end of each job for any sign of damage and function faults. Attending to repairs in a timely manner will ensure that you not only avoid any last minute hassles and onsite delays but also ensure your safety whilst using them.
Some of the things to look for during inspections:
- Loose, cracked or splintered handles. Any handle that is heavily cracked or splintered will need to be replaced as they are more likely to break whilst in use which can lead to injury to yourself or others around you. In the case that it is not too bad, simply sand it down until it is smooth enough to run your hand along it without suffering any splinters and finish off with a coat of linseed oil
- Mushroomed heads on tools like chisels and wedges Through continued use, sharp edges on your tools can become malformed and are unsafe to use. Continued use of these tools can result in its head shattering from impact. Add it to your maintenance schedule to sharpen these tools every 6 months
- Corrosion and rust. Depending on how much corrosion or rust is on the tool, it may be unsafe to use in which case, it is time for a replacement. If the damage isn't too bad removing the rust should be relatively easy
- Cracked housing on power tools. The general rule is that if a power tool has anything more than a simple hairline crack on the housing, don't use it. Unless you have the expertise to repair it, you'll need to have it repaired by a professional
- Power tools that don't start easily. Tools that take a awhile to start or needs an extra push to get the blades going are not safe to use. First try to lubricate it and see if you can get it going, otherwise, repairs are in order. Other than small repairs which can be done by yourself, take it to a repairer
- Frayed insulation or exposed wires. Protect yourself from being electrocuted and have any exposed wires repaired before any use. You may be able to use electrical tape as a temporary fix, however, it's best to have the tool repaired before using it
Click on the image to download our checklist
STORE TOOLS WITH CARE
When your tools are not in use, how you store them is just as important as the work you put into keeping them in good condition. Keep your tools covered up to keep them away from dirt and rain and remember to inspect tools that haven't been used in awhile to check for any signs of damage or corrosion.
- Keep your tools in a dry place. As we mentioned earlier, where moisture and condensation get into your tools, it may cause corrosion and rust. Some enclosed spaces like garages and basements may have humidity issues especially if tools are kept on shelves or pegboards. A dehumidifier could be your saving grace here and they aren't overly expensive considering the money you fork out for your tools
- Hang your garden tools. Don't leave your tools lying on the floor even if they are stored in a garage. It is too easy for moisture to come up from the concrete floors
- Store power tools in their original cases. If your tools came in a plastic case, keep them in the case when they are not in use. The hard cases are made to protect the tools and designed to keep the humidity out
- Use silica gel packs or rust collector. Silica gel packs do a great job at keeping moisture out and to top it off, and the best thing is that they come in alot of packaging. Place them in your toolboxes and keep the rust at bay
Tool maintenance requires quite a commitment on your part but being proactive in the maintenance of your assets will reduce unnecessary expenses relating to repairs and replacement of faulty equipment in the future.